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Ways to Modify the Difficulty of Your Tales of Xadia Sessions

Hello and welcome to another article aimed to help you make your home game of Tales of Xadia as fun as possible! When it comes to the entertainment medium of games, every player finds enjoyment in a variety of experiences. 

One of which is the difficulty of the adventure. Some players love harrowing situations where they feel the threat of loss looming around every corner. Others are more fulfilled by the story and don’t ever want to be stressed out by difficult encounters. 

Today we’ll be reviewing ways to modify the difficulty to suit the desires of your players. 

Step up or Down Dice 

As the Narrator, you will inevitably place tests, contests, or challenges in your adventure to see if the players are able to succeed or fail in their ambitions. To do that you’ll take two dice and roll them to announce what number the heroes must achieve or surpass to succeed. When it comes to manipulating the difficulty of an encounter you’ll want to focus on what kind of dice you’ll be using. 

For example, if a player wishes to participate in a simple test of trying to spot a specific shop they are near to, you’ll want to use 2d4. That way the total can be no higher than 8 which is relatively easy for players to beat when they use their dice pool. 

If that same character attempted to steal the most expensive item in a store while the staff is looking around, you’ll probably use 2d10 or even 2d12. This will ensure a much more difficult time for players to beat since the potential maximum is 20 or 24. 

However, if you are looking to provide a moderate challenge then 2d8 is the way to go. 

Provide or Temporarily Remove Assets

When times get tough, equipment can be a significant help to turn the tide. If you find that your players are struggling during a specific scene and it doesn’t seem like the remaining adventure will get organically easier, you can provide them an ‘Asset’. 

Assets represent an object or creature that provides an extra 1d6 to players to help improve their results when facing off against the Narrator in a scene. Whether it be a rope, spear, or even an Owl companion, anything that reasonably would be of assistance to the current situation. 

On the other hand, if you feel like things are a bit too easy for the players, you can instead temporarily remove an asset. An animal companion gets sick and is unable to help until they recover or a weapon breaks during combat. Many assets have an emotional connection to characters so I advise against completely taking them away unless it is a major story moment.

Choose when to use Plot Points

One of the most unique game mechanics in Tales of Xadia are the Plot Points. These are a premium game currency that allows players to improve their chances of success. Both Narrators and Players can acquire and activate Plot Points. When one of them uses them, the other gets awarded one to ensure balance.

For a Narrator, they wait until a player scores a Hitch, which is when they roll a natural 1, and then activates that ‘Opportunity.’ When this happens, the player’s character would step up a stress die of the Narrator’s choice. This is one of the major ways players can be negatively affected. 

However, the Narrator does not have to activate the opportunity. They can instead choose to let it go for a variety of reasons. This can range from not wanting to provide the players additional resources or simply not harming the character. The latter is what you’ll want to consider when it comes to balancing the difficulty of the adventure. 

If your players are succeeding in a majority of their scenes and you need to add a bit of conflict, then you can activate those opportunities every chance you get. If they are failing quite often and their stress builds quickly, you can instead choose to hold off and allow them a chance to recover. 

In the end, you’ll want to sit down and communicate with your players to better understand what they are looking to get out of their sessions. If they enjoy a challenge to showcase their wit and tenacity then you can help provide that difficulty. If they just want a roleplay experience without too much hardship then you can help to provide a safer space for their characters to thrive. 

Do not forget to also inform them of what you’d enjoy in a session as well! When it comes to tabletop roleplaying games, everyone having fun is the true way to play!

Inspiration for Your Table

Dive deep into the gaming system called Cortex! Join us over at the Tales of Xadia newsletter, and our YouTube channels feature fun playthroughs of our tales!

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